I am gay and I am an evolutionary ecologist.//
I’m a PhD student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I study the evolution of plant-microbe interactions. Broadly, I study these interactions in the context of how microbes influence plant phenotype. When I’m not doing science, I’m running, rock climbing, or probably reading science fiction.
I grew up in an incredibly religious environment. When coming to terms with being gay, I initially felt my best option was to stay closeted and single for the rest of my life as I was terrified of disappointing my family. It was the stories and courage of other members of LGBT community who came before me that helped me realize that it was safe to come out and be who I wanted to be. After I came out, I realized that I need to help foster the same sort of loving, safe, and accepting community that helped me come out. Being a visible part of the LGBT community, while seemingly a small step, can provide so much hope for closeted individuals.